Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mother, Revisited

I had what must seem like the most hideous thoughts the other day. Some women I know were discussing their mothers' hospice care and subsequent deaths. They talked about the things they missed.
Actually, it's a feeling I've had before. I overhear someone discussing how wonderful their mother was. All the things that they did together, all the things that they learned from them.
And I feel envious.
It's something I will never have, those happy memories and lessons learned at my mother's hand that I can then pass on to my own children.
It has been more than 6 years since my mother died and I waver in how I feel about it all.
I can go weeks without even thinking of her.
We looked vastly different. I often heard people ask if she had adopted me, not quite believing that my beautiful blonde, petite and gentle-voiced mother could have possibly birthed a lumbering loud mouth brunette like me.
I don't see her when I look in the mirror.
I don't see her features in the faces of my children.
We shared little in the way of common interests.
Except for my fascination with her when I was young. During that period I loved her nearly as much as she loved herself.
I will walk into a department store and smell her perfume on another woman. It takes me back to her home. When I would be invited to visit, which until I had my daughter was rarely, her entire house would smell of her perfume. And it should have been overwhelming and stifling, instead it was sweet and light.
I catch a glimpse of a woman as she walks confidently through the mall and for a moment my heart catches. Then she turns and I'm left with the feeling that I have missed out on something grand.
When I was a child I had convinced myself that my mother was really Cher. That when she would need to perform she would simply slip into that long black wig. Their features were similar enough to enable my young mind to believe it, to use this as the reason for why she didn't have time for me.
There were many years where we didn't speak to each other at all. During those times she would lavish extravagant gifts on my siblings with the explanation that they had been such very good children. And I was the bad seed.
She used to tell her therapist that I just got 'lost in the shuffle'.
She wasn't all bad. We did have days where just to sit next to her was like Christmas morning.
But the older I got, the less use she really had for me.
It became apparent that I would never be her, never be what she wanted me to be. I would always be too tall, too brunette, too loud, too much my father's child.
I had hoped things would change once my daughter was born. Briefly I was able to convince myself that it had. That her constant invitations and the things she bought for us were because she loved me.
It wasn't until later that I came to understand that she had hoped my small, nearly blonde daughter would be like her. And a part of me is grateful that she is gone, because it means that that transformation will never come to pass.
My general rule of parenting is to imagine what my mother would do and then do the opposite.
Because her death was so sudden, so unexpected, there was never time to say good-bye. I don't know if that would have made a difference or not.
Some days I think I've forgiven her for who she was. That sounds so arrogant doesn't it? I don't mean it to be.
Sometimes I hate her. Sometimes I miss her. I feel guilty and angry. It is an imbalance and an uncomfortable feeling.
I laugh to think of what she would say now, if she knew how I felt.

Often I think that I will never be able to just let it all go.

The thing that keeps me up at night?

Imagining my daughter feeling the same way about me.